Take a family holiday to the Northern Territory with our pick of 12 of the BEST family-friendly activities in Darwin. We’re talking a surfing and wave lagoon, wild turtle encounters, and outdoor cinema under the stars for starters.
1. Wave Lagoon
One of Darwin’s most-loved family attractions, the Wave Lagoon offers a stinger and crocodile-free place to swim. Older kids will love bobbing, boogie boarding and tube riding the gentle waves while younger kids can splash and swim in the shallow water play area. The Wave Lagoon forms part of the Darwin Waterfront Precinct where you’ll find eateries, a children’s playground and a sandy beach.
2. Crocosaurus Cove
If there’s one animal that’s synonymous with the Northern Territory, it’s the saltwater crocodile, and you can see some of the largest specimens in the country at Crocosaurus Cove. See the force of a crocodile’s jaw during the Big Croc Feed Show and safely swim with juvenile crocs in the pool, then have your pic taken holding an adorable baby crocodile.
3. George Brown Botanic Gardens
Immerse yourself in the tropical paradise that is the George Brown Botanic Gardens, which is magnificently planted with native and exotic flora. Learn about Indigenous plant use at the newly opened visitor’s centre and see majestic baobabs in the African-Madagascan garden, then enjoy a play break at the three-storey treehouse.
4. Museum and Art Gallery of the NT
Darwin’s premier cultural institution, this museum is packed with exhibits exploring the region’s heritage. Highlights for families include the Discovery Centre, where kids can participate in free activities, and the feeding of the museum’s resident pig-nosed turtle. No trip is complete without seeing Sweetheart — a taxidermied croc that was notorious for attacking boats in the 1970s.
5. Darwin Sailing Club
Whether you want to learn to sail or just enjoy a peaceful cruise around the harbour, the Darwin Sailing Club is the place to make it happen. It centres around an open and airy clubhouse overlooking Fannie Bay, where you can feast on seafood while watching the spectacular sunset.
6. The Defence of Darwin Experience
At the heart of the Darwin Military Museum is this immersive exhibit, which details the bombing of Darwin by Japanese forces on 19 February 1942. Through first-hand accounts and multimedia presentations, kids can learn about life in the Northern Territory during World War II, then record their family’s story and links to war in the digital story-telling space.
7. Mindil Beach Markets
The Mindil Beach Markets are a Darwin institution and take place every Thursday and Sunday from late April until late October. There are more than 200 stalls offering everything from local handicrafts to massages on the waterfront, accompanied by live music and a mouthwatering array of multicultural food. For the brave, it’s a great opportunity to try local delicacies such as kangaroo and crocodile while watching the sunset over the Timor Sea.
8. Royal Flying Doctors Darwin
Learn about the history of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the bombing of Darwin through virtual reality and holographic technology at this interesting attraction. As well as listening to the tales of Nurse Kathy and seeing a full-size replica of a Japanese Zero aircraft, you can experience a virtual flight with a Royal Flying Doctors pilot.
9. Turtle Tracks tour to Bare Sand Island
Departing from Stokes Hill Wharf, this sunset cruise will take you to Bare Sand Island, which is an important nesting ground for flatback and olive ridley turtles. Led by knowledgeable guides, you’ll learn about the turtles’ lifecycles and hear stories of the Larrakia Nation before watching as the turtles lay their eggs or new hatchlings emerge on the sand.
10. Deckchair Cinema
Overlooking Darwin Harbour, this breezy, open-air cinema is the ideal place to catch a flick with the family during the dry season. Arrive early and grab a bite from one of the food stalls or bring your own picnic before settling into the comfy deckchairs for a family favourite or new release blockbuster.
For more than 50 years, bream, mullet and wild rays have been flocking to Darwin’s Doctors Gully at high tide for a free feed of bread. In 1981, Aquascene was established so that everyone could participate in the hand feeding in a sustainable manner. Relax in one of the stadium-style seats to watch the boisterous fish in action or wade into the shallows alongside them.
12. Territory Wildlife Park
A 45-minute drive south of Darwin, the Territory Wildlife Park offers up-close encounters with the Top End’s animals in a natural bush setting. Shuttle trains and walking trails link its treetop aviaries, lagoon and monsoon forest, as well as the aquarium where you can come face-to-face with a 4m-long saltwater crocodile. In the school holidays, the park hosts a series of educational workshops and interactive programs designed specifically for kids.